A report from The Horde side of the Warcraft movie
For the Horde! World of Warcraft players have been talking about orcs vs. humans and Alliance vs. Horde for years and now we’re going to see it played out in a film. The Warcraft movie will be released on June 10, 2016 and we were lucky to visit the set of the Duncan Jones-directed movie. As a World of Warcraft player myself, I can tell you that every item we saw, from the props shop to the horse armor, was a pretty accurate representation of what I see in the game every night (Seriously, every night.) Today we have interviews for you from the Horde side, including Robert Kazinsky, who plays the Orc Orgrim, Toby Kebbell, who plays Durotan, and Anna Galvin, who plays Draka. Fans of the game and the lore behind it will recognize those names. Here’s the good word from the Horde.
First of all, the Orcs are going to be huge. Jones told us, “You know, it was a weird phase when our props master was asking us, ‘are you sure you want this weapon this big?’ I was like yeah, yeah, yeah, we need it this big. And it all comes together. Obviously, we get our performances with our very large motion capture actors. And hen there are certain scaling issues that we do after that.”
Kebbell and Galvin talked about playing Durotan, who is the Chieftain of the Frostwolf clan of Orcs, and Draka, who is his devoted wife. They have a relationship that non-gamer viewers may be surprised by. Across the board, we were told that this film is a true balance between Horde and Alliance and that there are good and bad characters on both sides. The Horde isn’t going to be full of grunting Orcs with no story and no drive besides war.
Galvin explained, “He’s the Chieftain, and I’m his wife. But there’s some lovely things that color our relationship. Even though he does walk a step ahead of me, we’re very much I think peers. And there’s a great deal of respect and love between us, and that’s shown in the movie that I actually can hold sway over him a little bit. He will listen to me. His word isn’t the law, at least behind closed doors for us.”
As you know, the Orcs are created through motion capture and as Jones indicated, are far larger than humans. Kebbel told us about the movement it takes to create a huge character with a smaller human actor. He said, “It’s like puppeteering, you know, it’s that vastness that we have to stand so far apart. And you know it’s getting used to all of that sort of circumstance. That’s the reason my stride is so much bigger that we kept–actually it became a quite sweet thing to be at just that one pace in front. And yeah. I mean it’s true. It’s true. It’s really nice to play that. It’s nice to play an Orc that isn’t just a pure beasty, evil warrior. You know that we have conflict on all sides. You know what I mean? That have the good and evil and—“ Galvin jumped in: “…and a code of honor. I mean I think the Orcs that have taken control are sort of more bestial and hell-bent on strife and war, whereas the Orcs that haven’t, and the Frostwolf Clan hasn’t, and it comes from the top down.
“Our Chieftain has refused it, where we’re still governed by a code of honor. And our behavior is tempered by the wisdom of our leaders and the shaman, old shamanic law of the world that we come from, which is Draenor. And we’re leaving there because it’s in strife. It’s withering and dying. And we have no choice. So, I think we’ve come from a happy place of peace I suppose, unless there was something to fight for, and there would have to be a reason for fighting, and we’ve got to find somewhere else.”
Galvin said she had a character created for her to play in the game to get a sense of the world. “One of the AD’S on set has created a Warcraft character for me. And I haven’t done much because it’s so much fun to create it. I’ve got big pointy ears, and I’m a Shaman, I’m called Shamanax. Shamana was already taken. I said just whack an ‘x’ on the end there. And sure enough good as gold … I think the fans of Warcraft will be blown away by the movie because it really brings–there’s no shaky, wobbly, questionable behavior. It’s all so real and expressive because of the advanced motion capture. It’s–it captures the performer’s actions with such integrity and detail that it’s going to heighten the world and make it more real than fantasy, which I think would blow the minds of people who are a fan of Warcraft.”
Galvin taked about the process of filming. “They’d have a screen facing us on this gray stage. And we’d have all the balls and our little polyester jammies on. And we’d be able to see ourselves animating our characters, not their facial expressions. But actually on set, there’s a device that the producers and directors have access to. And they show it to us as well. So, if we shoot a scene–let me see if I can explain this.
“For instance, if we shoot a scene in a tent, and we rehearse it and they shoot it with a couple of cameras, and then we leave the tent, and they shoot an empty plate of inside that location, we go to what’s called a volume space where we do the virtual.
“We completely recreate that scene that was shot in the tent. But it’s just capturing all the motion capture. And they can translate that in real time onto this little monitor device that has the location where we’re meant to be, the tent, and our avatars are there moving around.
“So–and then they can play it back and show it to us. That’s gobsmacking as a performer to see that. It’s awesome because my biggest challenge is to be faithful to Draka, my character, and show her dignity coupled with her warrior skills.”
Kazinsky, who’s a ranked World of Warcraft player, talked about playing the in-game legend Orgrim. “To understand Orgrim, you need to kind of understand the Frostwolves, and the Frostwolves are–the best way I can help people understand is, assuming you know the story in the game of what kind of happens, the Orcs are—[corrupted by a demon.] The Orcs become a very warlike race. Now the Frostwolves are much more old-fashioned. They hail to kind of more traditional sense. They are–the best way I can kind of describe it is a tradition American Indian tribe is the closest thing you could possibly come to them.
“They are very shamanistic in the way they behave and spiritual and honest. And they live up in the mountains a long way away, and they travel down. Their clan is dying. They travel down to the chief’s call. And they are essentially the representation of all that is good about the Orcs, honor, trust, friendship, family. They represent everything that is good that the Orcs have lost. And the difference between the Frostwolves and any other Orc clan is usually the strongest is always the leader, no matter how dumb they might be… but with us, wisdom is strength, and not saying that Durotan (Kebbell) isn’t a double hard bastard, because he is. But he is the wisest leader, the one that everybody respects. And he and I, we’ve been best friends since were tiny little Orc babies.
“And I’ve been his right hand man and his dumb, stupid, bald-headed, really tough right hand man from the beginning. And Duncan and I sat down early on, and we kind of described what we wanted from this relationship. And we drew up Butch and Sundance. And that’s exactly what we have gone for, me and Toby. We’re trying to play Butch and Sundance here.”
For gamers who are worried about what they’re about to see, let Kazinsky reassure you. “Obviously I know more about this game than probably anybody here. Like, I know more than probably most of the people who work for Blizzard.
“I know the law like the back of my hand. I know everything there is to know, every quest. I have like a photographic memory, so I remember every quest as well and everything you do … There are people who have asked me like ‘is this like the game’ and so forth like that. I have to sit there and you know–this isn’t a movie about the game. This is a movie in its own right based on the stories of first Warcraft game.
“We are not trying to make a direct tradeoff from the game to the movie. This is one of the things when they first sent me the script, I was worried. I was scared. I was like, what if it sucks, man, because let’s be honest, there’s never been a computer game movie that hasn’t sucked.
So, this–I was like what if it sucks? What if they f*** up Warcraft? I’ll be so upset. And then I read it. And I read it from two sides. I read it right, so you’ve got to make a movie that appeals to a broader audience and not just those gamers… So, I read the whole thing, and it walks this line. And I–it’s so perfectly political of how they kind of do it because it’s–as a gamer, I was more than happy. As a fan of the game, I read it, and I was like, yeah, well, this is–yeah, there’s a few changes and stuff like that.
But I can understand and appreciate why they’ve made those changes to make a better film. And then as a film viewer, you go, well, it’s just good. It’s good. It’s not trying to be story-less. You know? Like, the main center point of WoW, which is a nine-year-old game, and not great anymore, it’s–you know it’s certainly not practically or even play it dirty-wise it’s fairly repetitive … We’ve made a hell of a movie. I promise you we have. It’s exciting. It’s interesting … I think I feel like we’re birthing something really enormous. Something–all I know is I know how much this game has meant to me, and the opportunity to take it out into the world and for it to mean more to other people, that’s why we do this,” he said. Then laughing, he added, “And the money, and the money.”
Warcraft will hit theaters on June 10, 2016. Don’t miss our report from the Alliance side and stay tuned for more from the set. Directed by Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code), the film was written by Charles Leavitt and rewritten by Jones. The producers are Charles Roven, Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni and Alex Gartner. Stuart Fenegan, Jillian Share and Brent O’Connor serve as executive producers. Blizzard’s Chris Metzen is co-producing.